Guest-blogging over at Gateway Pundit, Warner Todd Huston misleadingly suggested that Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland concocted a “Central American call center deal” by awarding stimulus funds to a Texas-based company that used an El Salvador-based call center to administer Ohio's stimulus-funded appliance rebate program:
What was it that Democrat President Barack Obama told us about the stimulus? Oh, yeah that it would “save or create” American jobs. Seems like a good idea, right? So what happened in Ohio when Democrat Governor Ted Strickland got his mitts on some of Obama's stimulus cash? Why he gave it to a company to fund a call center that is operating out of El Salvador, Central America, of course.
Jobs for Americans? Heck no, jobs for El Salvadorans! And why? Because it was a good deal, you see?
Earlier this year Governor Strickland's Department of Development awarded a $171,300 contract to a company named Parago. This company was hired by the state to operate a call center that Ohio residents can call to take advantage of a rebate program that the state set up so that Buckeyes could buy new household appliances and get a little sumpthin' back.
Apparently everything was going wonderfully for most of this year until one Ohio resident happened to ask one of the El Salvadoran phone jockeys where the call center was at which they were taking the calls. When the Buckeye was told Central America, said resident became incensed that federal “stimulus” money was going to fund jobs in El Salvador instead of in the United States -- like Obama promised it would.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer got wind of the incident and blew the lid off Ted “El Jefe” Strickland's Central American call center deal and the rest is, as they say, el historia.
But Strickland didn't make a “Central American call center deal.” How do we know that? Because the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial to which Huston linked in his post specifically notes that the state of Ohio knew nothing of Parago's plans to use a Central American-based call center when it awarded Parago the contract.
Essentially, Huston helpfully debunked his own false suggestion.
Here's the actual story: According to The Associated Press, in March, the Ohio Department of Development awarded a contract to Texas-based Parago Inc. to administer an appliance rebate program “which rewarded consumers with federal stimulus dollars when they bought energy-efficient appliances.” Parago subsequently used a call center based in El Salvador to work on the program. But as the AP reported, the Strickland administration did not know that Parago would be using a foreign-based call center:
Parago never told the state that it would use a foreign call center, and the state did not require the information with bids. State officials learned about the call center from an Ohio resident who asked a call center employee where the operation was.
Further, the AP noted that as a result of the controversy, Strickland issued an order “prohibit[ing] state contractors from using offshore workers.”
But in his blog post, Huston claimed that “Ted 'El Jefe' Strickland” made a “Central American call center deal,” suggesting that Strickland gave stimulus money to a company he knew would be outsourcing its call center to Central America. We know from the AP's reporting that Huston's suggestion is false. But we also can assume that Huston knew it was false when he wrote it, since he linked to the Plain-Dealer editorial that specifically noted that the Ohio Department of Development “said it didn't know Parago was off-shoring calls until a rebate applicant asked a call-center employee where the center is located” and criticized the state for not asking such questions as part of its bidding process.
This all begs the question: Did Huston deliberately omit this information so he could mislead his readers and attack Strickland, or did he simply just not read the editorial carefully?